BRUSSELS, May 7 (Reuters) - Heineken plans to replicate its most successful sales techniques across the world as the beer industry battles for the third of drinkers who only chose a product after arriving at a bar or store.
New chief commercial officer Jan Derck van Karnebeek told Reuters the world's No.3 brewer by volume -- like its rivals -- already had common practices across its breweries, but that sales techniques had tended to vary from region to region.
"We have taken a bit of a leaf out of the way we operate our breweries, with a common way of working. Sales is not that different. It's repeatable processes, executed day after day," he said in an interview.
Heineken, with a sales force of some 23,000, announced a reorganisation at the end of March to regroup into just four geographic regions. It also created the new post of chief commercial officer, awarded to Van Karnebeek, who has been head of Heineken's eastern European business.
Global brewers have spread into ever more countries -- Heineken makes beer in about 70 -- and have been busy in recent years creating new products from low alcohol radlers to stronger spirit and fruit flavoured drinks.
Faced with such choice, Van Karnebeek says about 30-40 percent of drinkers only make up their mind at the bar or store, but there are ways of persuading them to pick certain brands.
"Fundamentally what happens in the bar in Nigeria or a pub in the UK in the interaction between the sales rep and the outlet owner is not that different," he said
"A beer shelf in Vietnam may not look the same as a beer shelf in Brazil, but what makes you win and how you reach that success is pretty repeatable."
The tricks can include ensuring cafes and restaurants have detailed beer menus, getting product into a small store's fridge or ensuring there are at least three bottles or cans on a supermarket shelf to catch attention.
Van Karnebeek said the idea of a "repeatable models" for sales was not new, Coca Cola having had a system in place for years, but its application to the beer industry was more novel.
The idea was to have a different sales approach for bars, smaller shops and larger stores, but to recognise for example that one in Novosibirsk was similar to another in Mexico. (Editing by Mark Potter)